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Dogs always find the most comfortable spots around the house. Sometimes they go to obvious spots like the couch or the bed, but sometimes they choose the hard floor or the spot by the door. However, you might also have realized that your pup likes to follow the sun like a little furry sunflower!
When you see your dog laying in the sun on a warm summer day or a chilly winter afternoon, you might think, “Why do dogs lay in the sun?”
Dogs will often lay in the sun due to various reasons including the sun warms them up, laying in the sunny spot becoming a part of their routine, and because the sunlight makes them feel happier. Dogs might also lay in the sun simply because it’s cozy for them.
Let’s dive deeper into these reasons why dogs lay in the sun and the possible benefits of this behavior.
Reason 1: They Are Feeling Cold
It’s a cold winter day and you notice that even though it’s chilly and windy, the sun is still out. Then, you also notice that your dog is sunbathing in the sunniest part of your house.
Dogs might lay in the sun because they feel cold and want the sun to warm them up.
Just like humans when they are cold, dogs will also try to find the best heat source. If the sun is out and shining into the house or apartment through the windows, your pup might lay in the sunniest spot they can find.
When dogs are cold, they can show some signs to let you know. If your dog is cold, you might notice them shivering, whining, lifting their paws off the ground, or suddenly seeming uncomfortable.
If you think that your dog is laying in the sun because it is cold, you may either raise the temperature of the heater or maybe lay out some blankets for your dog. Dogs are denning creatures so if your dog is crate trained, you could place the crate in the warmest part of the house or add more comfy blankets inside to add some warmth.
Reason 2: The Sun Happens To Be Shining On Their Favorite Spot
Many dog owners will realize that their pup has a favorite spot in their living space whether that is one spot in every room or one spot in the entire house or apartment. However, dog owners might also realize that their spots might be the places that get the most sunlight.
Dogs might lay in the sun because their favorite spot just happens to be the place where the sun shines the most.
Dogs can have different reasons why their spot in a room or building is considered their favorite. Their spot might give them the outlet for instinctual behaviors like denning, a quiet place for napping, or a soft and cozy place to just hang out.
If you notice that your dog spends a lot of time in one spot no matter the time of day, the temperature, or the amount of sunlight shining, that may be a sign that that is their favorite spot.
Reason 3: The Sun Feels Good And Comforting
Dogs, like people, find different things more comfortable than others. Dogs might think that sunlight, even when it isn’t cold out, is something that feels good and brings comfort.
Dogs might lay in the sun because the sunlight feels good to them.
Dogs do not always lay in the sun because they are cold. They find the extra warmth very cozy and comfortable compared to laying on a cold floor. Your dog might just prefer to lay in the sunlight no matter the temperature or season.
While it may seem strange that dogs would want to lay in the sun even when it’s warm, dogs have their own preferences just as humans do. Other unusual behaviors some dogs might find comfortable are crossing their paws when they are laying down and laying by their owners’ heads.
Check out this video of three pups soaking up the rays comfortably together:
Reason 4: The Sun Makes Them Happy
Sun has been a sign of happiness for a long time. In fact, the sun in cartoons is often depicted with a smiling face! It isn’t unusual for the sun to bring happiness to our dogs as well.
Dogs might lay in the sun because it makes them happy.
The sun’s light does not only make our dogs happy because how it makes everything look bright. There are chemical reactions with the sun that make our dogs feel happier too!
There are different benefits of sunlight for our pups. One example is that it helps us and our dogs regulate our circadian rhythm, controlling our sleep cycles. The sun also increases serotonin in our dogs’ brains. Serotonin is the hormone that makes us and our dogs feel happy and helps our general well-being.
The next time you see your pup sunbathing, you can think about how they could be feeling really happy right now and you could spend some time with them in the sun as well!
Reason 5: The Sun Helps Dogs With Their Circadian Rhythm And Sleep
As mentioned in the previous reason why dogs might lay in the sun, the sun helps our and our dogs’ circadian rhythms.
Dogs may lay in the sun and sunbathe because it helps with their sleeping schedule.
Our circadian rhythms are controlled by our mental and physical changes. The level of brightness and darkness relates to our need to sleep and our need to be awake. Many animals have a circadian rhythm. Some animals, like humans, tend to be awake during the day and sleep at night like dogs. Nocturnal animals, like bats, sleep during the day and are awake at night. This is the function of circadian rhythms.
Dogs have circadian rhythms as well and the sun, without knowing it, helps them stay awake during the day so that they can have a restful sleep at night.
Reason 6: Laying In The Sun Has Become A Part Of Their Routine
Dogs are creatures of habit just as humans are. That means they like to do the same things every day, maintaining consistency and control.
Dogs might lay in the sun because it has become a part of their daily routine.
Many dog owners know that having a routine with their dogs is the best way to make their pup feel comfortable and lower stress levels. Like humans, dogs like to know what to expect so they don’t have to be alert all the time. This makes potty training easier when owners are consistent with the times they take their dogs out.
While it might seem like the only things on dogs’ schedules are eating times, potty times, and play times, some dogs might like to have even the smallest activities part of their routine such as laying in the sun for a few minutes.
Why Do Dogs Lay In The Sun Even When It’s Hot?
It might not make sense, but many dogs tend to lie in the sun even when the temperature is high.
In general, dogs might lay in the sun even when it’s hot, simply because they find it comfortable but we don’t. They might find it comfortable for the same reasons listed above such as the sunlight making them feel happier or laying in the sun has become part of their routine.
However, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. If it is very hot in the room or if your dog decides to lay outside during a heat wave, limit their sunbathing to a few minutes. It is crucial to always have water accessible to dogs but cool water is especially needed during the hottest times of the year.
Watch this short clip of a cute dog sunbathing outside:
Do Dogs Need Sunlight For Vitamin D?
Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D for humans but is it a source of vitamin D for dogs as well?
Vitamin D is necessary for humans and dogs. It helps absorb and regulate calcium and phosphorus and it helps our kidneys to save up the calcium and build bones and muscles with it. Sunlight does provide vitamin D for dogs just as it does for humans which could be another reason why dogs find sunbathing comforting!
However, sunlight is not as great a source of vitamin D for dogs as it is for humans. Humans and dogs both absorb vitamin D through the skin when the sun shines on us, but dogs cannot do it as efficiently as humans. Therefore, the main source of vitamin D for dogs is their diet.
Many dog foods already contain the appropriate amount of vitamin D. Some common ingredients and food sources of vitamin D for dogs include egg yolks, fish, beef, and dairy products according to this article by the National Animal Supplement Council.
If you prefer to make your dog’s food with your own ingredients, it is important to consult your veterinarian on how to prepare balanced meals for your dog with the right sources and supplements to ensure your dog stays healthy and happy.
Can Dogs Have Too Much Vitamin D?
While your dog might already be getting their source of vitamin D through their kibble, you might also wonder if your dog is getting too much vitamin D.
Having too much vitamin D can lead to serious health issues and problems. The excess vitamin D that is not released when your dog pees is stored in fat tissue and the liver, leading to kidney failure and death. Some signs of having too much vitamin D include vomiting, not wanting to eat or drink, and possibly losing weight.
How does your dog get too much vitamin D?
It is important to maintain a balanced diet. Giving a dog too much vitamin D through too much of a source or supplement or even feeding your dog the wrong dog food can result in the dog having vitamin D toxicity. Make sure to keep human vitamin D supplements out of your dogs’ reach as well.
If you suspect your dog is experiencing vitamin D toxicity, visit your vet immediately.
When it comes to communicating with our canine companions, it is important to understand and observe their behavior. Laying in the sun and sunbathing might seem like small and meaningless actions, but they can tell you how dogs feel.
If a behavior seems strange for your dog or if they are beginning to act differently, it could mean a bunch of different things. If you are concerned about your pup’s health, contacting your veterinarian or a professional animal behaviorist is the best option.
Understanding our dogs’ behaviors, even small ones like why dogs lay in the sun, can lead to a stronger relationship with them!